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The Weirdest People in the World

How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

Joseph Henrich



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Allen Lane
17 November 2020
An exhilarating new account of how psychology, culture and institutions co-evolved to produce the Western mind Do you identify yourself by your profession or achievements, rather than your family network? Do you cultivate your unique attributes and goals? If so, perhaps you are WEIRD- raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.

Unlike most who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, nonconformist, analytical and control-oriented. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically peculiar? What part did these differences play in the industrial revolution and the expansion of European power? And what do they mean for our collective identity?

Joseph Henrich, who developed the game-changing concept of WEIRD, uses leading-edge research in anthropology, psychology, economics and evolutionary biology to explore how changing family structures, marriage practices and religious beliefs in the Middle Ages shaped the Western mind, laying the foundations for the world we know today. Brilliant, provocative, engaging and surprising, The Weirdest People in the World will revolutionize your understanding of who - and how - we are now.
By:   Joseph Henrich
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 45mm
Weight:   1.173kg
ISBN:   9781846147968
ISBN 10:   1846147964
Pages:   704
Publication Date:   17 November 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Joseph Henrich is an award-winning anthropologist, and a professor and chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He is the author of The Secret of our Success. He lives in Massachusetts.

Reviews for The Weirdest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

An incredibly ambitious book -- Rutger Bregman * Observer (Best Books of the Year) * Henrich offers a capacious new perspective that could facilitate the necessary work of sorting out what's irredeemable and what's invaluable in the singular, impressive, and wildly problematic legacy of Western domination * The Atlantic * A brilliant performance - accessible, playful and scholarly, turning conventional history on its head and approaching it in a new way. -- Simon Sebag-Montefiore * BBC History Books of the Year * One of the most interesting books I've read this year. -- James Marriot (via Twitter) Joseph Henrich's The WEIRDest People in the World . . . makes for stunning reading. (It is also written with such wit and humor, and luminous clarity.) Probably an understatement to say that it is one of the most important books of the year. -- Cass Sunstein * author of Nudge * [A] sweeping and magisterial book, likely to become as foundational to cultural psychology as the WEIRD acronym [Henrich] and his colleagues coined a decade ago. -- Alex Mackiel * Quillette * Henrich and his colleagues are shaking the foundations of psychology and economics - and hoping to change the way social scientists think about human behaviour and culture. * Pacific Standard * Propelled by a bold vision, this landmark study is required reading for anyone curious about the origins of modernity -- Walter Scheidel, author of The Great Leveler Henrich has thought more deeply about cultural evolution than anybody alive. His fascinating insights into just how weird people like he and I are, with our western lifestyles, and what the implications of that are for better and for worse, are a great contribution to scholarship. -- Matt Ridley * author of 'How Innovation Works' * There's nothing so fascinating as a social anthropologist's analysis of his own tribe. Henrich shows how strange and exceptional Western society is when compared with most of the world -- John Barton, author of A History of the Bible This anthropology-meets-big-data approach is not merely innovative, but underpins a fascinating and creative book, brimming with provocative ideas. * Financial Times * Phenomenal ... The only theory I am aware of that attempts to explain broad patterns of human psychology on a global scale. -- Coren Apicella, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania * Washington Post * The most absorbing, provocative and compelling book I have read in a long time. Joseph Henrich's thrilling expose of cultural variety and evolution is grounded in meticulous science, and his arguments go beyond the milestone of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. You will never look again in the same way at your own seemingly universal values. -- Uta Frith * Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development, University College London * Engagingly written, excellently organized and meticulously argued . . . This is an extraordinarily ambitious book, along the lines of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel ... We will all have to change our perspective. -- Daniel C. Dennett * New York Times * A massively ambitious work that explains the transition to the modern world ... Significantly contributes to our understanding -- Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order Illuminates a journey into human nature that is more exciting, more complex and ultimately more consequential than has previously been suspected. * Nature * A masterpiece. Staggering in range, intricate in detail, thrilling in ambition, this book is a landmark in social thought. Henrich may go down as the most influential social scientist of the first half of the twenty-first century. -- Matthew Syed * bestselling author of 'Black Box Thinking' and 'Bounce' *

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